Bayeux Zoom (129 words)
There's a new high resolution scan of the Bayeux Tapestry available. I zoomed in close—you can get right up to the stitches—and thought about the people who bent over that linen and carefully embroidered those snaky trees, those lines suggesting waves, those crashing horses, that chain mail. And then King Harold of England, about to get his ass kicked by William the Conqueror, sitting in state with his orb and scepter, just like English monarchs do to this day.
Invasion and conquest and bending the world to our will: Go Western Civ! The chaos and violence are secondary to the stunning achievement of the object, and anyway, all that bloodshed is long since lost to time, for this historical episode anyway.
All that's left is spectacular craft.